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Old 04-14-2010, 08:07 PM   #1
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Different AWG in single circuit


The following is a description of a conduit-run circuit in my basement open ceiling.


I've got 15a breaker feeding 12 AWG to a junction box, with 14 AWG continuing to a ceramic light fixture over my workbench, and 14 AWG going to the end-of-run 15a receptacle which serves a stand-up freezer in the finished portion of the basement. The circuit doesn't branch to anything else.


Should I be concerned about different gauge wiring in the same circuit? My understand is that nothing the breaker feeds can be LESS than the breaker, while mine has a portion that exceeds the breaker.

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Old 04-14-2010, 08:13 PM   #2
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Different AWG in single circuit


Functionally it should be fine. The breaker is 15A meaning you need minimum 14 AWG conductors, which you have throughout.

I don't know what the NEC says, if anything, about combining wire sizes in a single circuit.

Nothing at all wrong with it unless someone puts a 20 amp breaker on the circuit.

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Old 04-14-2010, 08:33 PM   #3
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Different AWG in single circuit


I actually put the 14 awg in myself last week, not thinking there was 12 awg coming out of the breaker.

Everything after the 12 awg, from the junction box, WAS old wiring with no ground, you know, covered in that fabric. I assumed it was 14 awg because of the breaker, did all of the wiring, and then as I was splicing in the box as the last step, I noticed the discrepancy.

The code I found (215.2 A 2) states that the breaker cannot be MORE than the circuit's capacity rating, where my setup is, in part, more, with the rest to code. Finding that, I kept it together.

I may rewire the 14 to 12 later, after all of my wiring projects, and replace the breaker with a 20. We'll see.

Thanks for the reassurance.
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Old 04-14-2010, 11:02 PM   #4
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Different AWG in single circuit


There's nothing in the code that says you can't have a bigger wire than the breaker in any circuit. In fact, bigger wire is used regularly to compensate for voltage drop on long runs.

The breaker size is limited to the smallest wire anywhere in the circuit.

Rob
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Old 04-15-2010, 09:17 PM   #5
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Different AWG in single circuit


Quote:
Originally Posted by brric View Post
Nothing at all wrong with it unless someone puts a 20 amp breaker on the circuit.
But at some point (in time) someone may look at the wire at the panel, which is #12 AWG and might want to change the breaker to a 20a.! The key question is what the NEC says about this.?!
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Old 04-15-2010, 09:21 PM   #6
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Different AWG in single circuit


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Originally Posted by spark plug View Post
But at some point (in time) someone may look at the wire at the panel, which is #12 AWG and might want to change the breaker to a 20a.! The key question is what the NEC says about this.?!
And what do you say the NEC says about it?
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Old 04-15-2010, 09:24 PM   #7
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Different AWG in single circuit


Quote:
Originally Posted by micromind View Post
There's nothing in the code that says you can't have a bigger wire than the breaker in any circuit. In fact, bigger wire is used regularly to compensate for voltage drop on long runs.

The breaker size is limited to the smallest wire anywhere in the circuit.

Rob
Yes. But someone else than the original owner (& OP) might at some point mistakenly insert a larger size breaker without knowing that the size of wire decreases at some point. Some form of permanent cautionary. note should be posted at the panel.
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Old 04-15-2010, 09:32 PM   #8
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Different AWG in single circuit


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Originally Posted by spark plug View Post
Yes. But someone else than the original owner (& OP) might at some point mistakenly insert a larger size breaker without knowing that the size of wire decreases at some point. Some form of permanent cautionary. note should be posted at the panel.
And what article of the NEC states this?
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Old 04-15-2010, 10:48 PM   #9
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Different AWG in single circuit


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Yes. But someone else than the original owner (& OP) might at some point mistakenly insert a larger size breaker without knowing that the size of wire decreases at some point. Some form of permanent cautionary. note should be posted at the panel.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but by this logic you should put a note on your panel because someone might put a 50A breaker on a one that was originally wired for a 30A circuit? This doesn't make sense to me, there would be no end to the arguments.
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Old 04-15-2010, 11:00 PM   #10
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Different AWG in single circuit


I like sparkplug's response.
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Old 04-15-2010, 11:19 PM   #11
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Different AWG in single circuit


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Originally Posted by brich View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong, but by this logic you should put a note on your panel because someone might put a 50A breaker on a one that was originally wired for a 30A circuit? This doesn't make sense to me, there would be no end to the arguments.
he is suggesting putting it on a circuit that starts out with a particular size of wire at the panel but changes to a smaller wire somewhere down the circuit. Code requires the breaker to be no larger than that smaller wire is limited to but if a person is not aware there is smaller wire on that branch circuit and sees the larger wire in the panel, they may install a breaker based on the wire they see in the panel.

If so, the smaller wire on that branch circuit would not be protected properly.

make sense?
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Old 04-15-2010, 11:24 PM   #12
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Different AWG in single circuit


I've seen it done many times.

Absolute code violation.

Rob

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